Popular K-Pop band BTS has come under fire recently after old photos resurfaced of some members wearing hats with Nazi symbols on it.
The pictures from an old photo shoot were shown on reddit and came to light again after the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the boy band. The pictures show one of the band members wearing a green camouflage hat with the Nazi Imperial Eagle (also known as the Reichsadler) and a swastika below it. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who is the Director of Global Social Action at the Wiesenthal Center, said in the organization’s release, “It goes without saying that this group, which was invited to speak at the UN, owes the people of Japan and the victims of the Nazism an apology.”
Before the swastika image came to light, BTS was criticized last week after another member, Jimin, wore a shirt with the famous image of the mushroom cloud over the Japanese city of Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped. They were scheduled to perform in Japan, but that show was abruptly canceled.
BTS’ management company, Big Hit Entertainment, released a statement on Facebook about the photos and explained their stance on the attire of choice. Big Hit Entertainment said the company “does not support any organizations or groups oriented towards political extremism and totalitarian beliefs including Nazism, is against all such entities and activities, had no intention of causing distress or pain to anyone affected by historical events.”
The statement later said the symbolism was “not intentional” and “we would like to offer our sincere apologies for inadvertently inflicting pain and distress to anyone affected by totalitarian regimes in the past by failing to strictly review the clothing and accessories that our members were made to wear, as well as to anyone who may have experienced distress and discomfort by witnessing an association of our artists with imagery reminiscent of political extremism.”
In terms of the top depicting the bomb, Big Hit Entertainment said, “Big Hit does not condone any activities of war or the use of atomic weapons, is adamantly against them, had no intention of causing distress or pain to anyone affected by the dropping of atomic weapons, and we will continue to adhere to these principles.”
They added, “We would like to offer our sincere apologies not only for failing to take the precautions that could have prevented the wearing of such clothing by our artist that inadvertently inflicted pain on anyone affected by the use of atomic weapons, but to anyone who may have experienced distress and discomfort by witnessing the association of our artists with imagery related to atomic bombings.”
Big Hit Entertainment concluded their note, “We would like to again offer our sincerest apologies to anyone who has suffered pain, distress and discomfort due to our shortcomings and oversight in ensuring that these matters receive our most careful attention.”
At yet another concert, BTS was accused of waving flags that also bore resemblance to the Nazi flag. Rabbi Cooper said in his statement, “It is clear that those designing and promoting this group’s career are too comfortable with denigrating the memory of the past. The result is that on young generations in Korea and around the world are more likely to identify bigotry and intolerance as being ‘cool’ and help erase the lessons of history.”
BTS recently took home trophy at the 2018 People’s Choice Awards for Music Group of 2018.